The recent effects of the winter storm have resulted in many people feeling at wits’ end. Additional financial burdens which may include paying for repairs from busted pipes can cause numerous stressors for thousands of families. In addition, a lack of supplies and resources to help you care for your family can make you feel helpless. You may find the more helpless you feel, the angrier you feel as well. You may notice you and your partner arguing over day-to-day situations. At times, it may feel as though you cannot talk without it causing anger in one of you. Anger is a normal emotion. However, the people you tend to take your feelings of frustration out on are the people that you love the most. Therefore, learning how to calm each other down in the middle of a conflict can help you communicate more clearly. When you’re both on the same team, you can offer support to each other instead of functioning as adversaries. I have five suggestions that will help calm your partner and restore peace in your family.
- Neutralize the discussion. When a partner makes angry outbursts, you naturally want to get defensive and react. Instead, keep your focus on what you agree on. Don’t fight fire with fire.
- Make boundaries and stay respectful. Children learn how to deal with conflict from what they hear and see in the home. No matter how upset someone is, having strong boundaries in place where both partners speak respectfully to each other helps calm outbursts. It’s healthy to say how you feel. For example, "I’m afraid" or "I feel sad or mad" are acceptable and nurtured by your partner in a healthy relationship. Name calling or throwing insults at each other to avoid being honest about your hurt should never be allowed in your relationship.
- Be patient and compassionate with each other. When you’re angry, holding back from blurting out your pain can feel like you are not being honest. However, honesty is deeper and more complex than that. It’s connecting on an intimate level where you are in control of what you’re feeling. It’s also trusting another to hear your pain and accept that this is where you’re at. Practice patience and compassion with your partner by offering them a safe space to talk openly, without judgement, for what they feel.
- Look for the feeling underneath the conflict. Fighting about how to load the dishwasher or the right way to parent children are battles you don’t need to get involved with. When your partner gets angry, listen for the other stressors that are happening in their life. When it comes to arguments, 90% of them are about something deeper than what the couple is presently fighting about. Validating each other by listening and facing it together can help your partner feel less alone, and it will minimize agitation.
- Get help. Be kind to yourself and your partner. Most of us enter relationships without awareness of our emotions or how to deal with them. We resort to what was modeled for us when we were growing up. Seek the help of a trained professional and learn new, healthier ways to love and care for your relationship.
Part of being a couple is learning how to make things work together. If you know anger is an issue in your relationship, don’t ignore it. It’s an emotion we all feel and learning to manage it is part of being a responsible adult. A shared time out symbol and talking about trigger topics when you are both calm teaches your children that feeling angry is normal. Learning to manage anger helps keep those you love safe.